tv PBS News Hour PBS March 4, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm EST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> lehrer: good evening. i'm jim lehrer. we have two major stories tonight-- the jobless rate dropped to its lowest in nearly two years; and the counteroffensive by qaddafi forces escalated in libya. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, on the unemployment front, jeffrey brown looks at what the new hiring numbers mean for the economic recovery. >> lehrer: then, we have the latest on another deadly day in libya, and examine military
options by american or international forces. >> woodruff: plus, paul solman visits two rhode island cities that are struggling to honor pension pledges to retired public workers. >> i've been telling my firefighters and police i am happy to give 3%, i can not afford to fund your pension. >> lehrer: and mark shields and david brooks offer their weekly analysis. that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> okay, listen. somebody has got to get serious. >> i think... >> we need renewable energy. >> ...renewable energy is vital to our planet. >> you hear about alternatives, right? wind, solar, algae. >> i think it's got to work an a big scale. and i think it's going to be affordable. >> so, where are they? >> it has to work in the real world. at chevron, we're investing millions in solar and biofuel technology to make it work. >> we've got to get on this now. >> right now.
and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> lehrer: we begin with the good news of the february jobs report. the labor department today reported a net gain of 192,000 jobs, almost all of them in the private sector, and the most in nearly a year. the unemployment rate fell to 8.9%, the lowest in almost two years. and the so-called "under- employed" rate, including part- time workers and those who've stopped searching, dropped under 16%. overall, the number of people out of work dipped to 13.7 million, still nearly double the number before the recession. president obama welcomed the news as he spoke this afternoon
in miami, florida. so our economy has now added 1.5 million private sector jobs over the last year. and that's progress. but we need to keep building on that momentum. and in a world that's more competitive, more connected that ever before, that means answering some difficult questions. how do we attract new jobs? how do we attract new business, how do we attract new industries to our shores? >> on wall street the >> woodruff: on wall street, the jobs report was overshadowed by another surge in the price of oil. it topped $104 a barrel over new concerns about loss of production in libya. in response, the dow jones industrial average lost 88 points to close below 12,170. the nasdaq fell 14 points to close at 2,784. for the week, both the dow and the nasdaq rose a fraction of a percent.
now, back to the jobs story, and to jeffrey brown. >> brown: and we take a closer look at today's data with lisa lynch, dean of the heller school for social policy and management at brandeis university. she's a former chief economist for the labor department. and nariman behravesh, chief economist at i.h.s., an economic and financial forecasting company. well, lisa lynch you and i have certainly talked a lot about bad jobs numbers in the recent past can. we finally today talk about some good you ones? >> jeffrey, it's wonderful to be able to finally talk about a report where we're seeing good news across so many fronts. we saw as you reported increase in employment. we've now had 12 months of steady job growth out of the private sector. we have a drop in the unemployment rate. the biggest drop in the unemployment rate over the last three months since we experienced the 1980s. so we're seeing very sharp
decreases in the unemployment rate. we saw hourly wages up just in line with inflation. we saw manufacturing continuing to roar back. we saw recovery in the construction sector. so this is the solid great news employment report that we've been waiting to see for about six months. and we need to continue to see this kind of a report for the next nine or 12 months to really feel like we're out of the woods. >> nariman behravesh, one of the mysteries we talked about for a while is that even as we've had signs of economic growth it really hasn't translated to jobs. do you see signs here that that is happening at last? >> absolutely. and i think one of the things that's changed is the mood of businesses. if you look at various business sentiment surveys, they've all improved. not just big businesses but small business, crucially small businesses as well. so certainly companieses have had the money to spend on a variety of things
including hiring. and it now looks like they are actually doing that and if you look at the average payroll jobs growth in the last five morblts, it's about around 150,000. which is good. it's not great but it's good. so it certainly looks like we've turned the corner in terms of this recovery now spreading to the jobs market. >> and nariman when we do that, if i ask you why they're now willing, is it confidence, is it actual signals that they see, what do they see, the companies i mean that allows them to say, okay, now we will really hire? >> well, we've had almost a little more than a year and a half of recovery now. and the fears last summer of a double dip seem to have sort of vanished or disappeared, diminished, if you will. so there is a sense that yes, this recovery has legs. it's going to continue. so i think it's that and the sales numbers are looking good. consumers are spending. exports are strong. so in a variety of fronts,
with the exception of housing, of course, but on a variety of fronts this economy seems to be doing reasonably well. >> and lisa lynch you mentioned manufacturing. i think you mentioned construction. this was pretty broad, right? tell us a little bit about the sector's where there was the most growth and there were some that we didn't see growth. >> so we saw improvement in manufacturing, employment, up 33,000 jobs. much of that in the durable goods sector and in particular in machinery and fabricating metals. which is consistent with businesses buying new plant and equipment which they haven't done for a long period of time. fabricated metalses that are going into business investment so that's great news. and in fact n durable manufacturing, since two years-- 2008 we've seen employment gains there of almost a quarter of a million. we saw improvements in the construction industry, another 33,000 added in
employment there. now that's after january number that was a big drop. and so there's some fluctuations there related to the severe weather that we had in january. we saw improvements in transportation and warehousing. so goods are being made and they're getting put out on to the road. we saw job gains in temporary health industry, that's also another very good indication of employers bringing people on and hopefully they'll transform them from temporary workers to permanent workers. and we saw gains in eating and drinking establishments and the old reliable health-care sector which keeps on chugging along with adding jobs. we didn't see job gains in the retail sector. somewhat surprisingly given what nariman said that people are out spending, consumers are spending. but all in all across most of the sectors we saw good job growth. one other important sector, though that didn't happen of
job growth was the state and local government. and there we saw 30,000 workers losing their job. >> that is part of another story that we continue to follow every day. i want to ask you about another thing we just reported was of course the stock market went down today on fears of oil. and we have oil prices going up, energy costs, generally. we have food prices around the world there are some warning flags still out there. so are those fears thingses to worry about that might impact the potential for job growth going forward? >> indeed they could and i think this is a potential risk. so far i would say what we've seen in terms of oil prices and food priceses are to the going to threaten the recovery but if oil prices rise a lot more than, indeed, we could see a big problem. just to kind of give you a rule of thumb, every 10 dollars on oil prices reduces growth in the u.s. by about two/10 to 3/10 of a percent so right now 10, 15 dollars in the last couple
of months we're looking at growth maybe instead of 3.2 or 3.3, only 3%. but if it goes to 150, say, that's a whole different story or even higher. then i think we have reason to worry. >> so summing up, is it too soon to call it a turning point. how would you characterize it. >> i would say certainly the job situation is a turning point. i think we have seen this recovery now spread to the jobs market. there is this sort of cloud, thunder cloud on the horizon but if all goes well, and in fact some of the turmoil in the middle east sort of settles down, oil prices will come down and that particular source of risk, if you will, to the u.s. economy will dissipate. >> and lisa lynch what do you see, how would you characterize it and how many, if you get about 200,000 jobs this month, how many do we need and how long do we need to sustain it before you say okay, now it's real. >> so 200,000 jobs a month,
if we continue to keep that pace of job creation to get back to say the 5% unemployment rate we were at before this recession started that pace of job growth would mean it would take until 2019 before we got back down to 5%. so we need to see reports like this and more. in order to make a significant dent into that 13.7 million pool of unemployed that you talked about at the top of the show. >> all right. we'll leave it there. lissar lynch, nariman behravesh, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> lehrer: the day's other major story was libya. qaddafi forces tried to retake a key town west of tripoli. witnesses said artillery fire killed at least 18 people. and hundreds of protesters tried to march from a mosque in tajoura, a district on the eastern edge of the libyan capital. we have two reports from
independent television news, beginning with jonathan rugman. >> reporter: it was after friday prayers that the trouble began. libyans in tajoura, east of the capital, daring to express their hatred of qaddafi in the sanctuary of their mosque. "moammar qaddafi is the enemy of god," they shouted, holding aloft the flag of the king the colonel deposed 41 years ago. then, several hundred marched to tajoura's square, copying the protests which toppled the leaders of tunisia and egypt. but libya is different-- this is just one district, and it is surrounded by police and army checkpoints. young men have been taken away for questioning in the last few days, and nobody here would risk speaking on camera. this demonstration shows that the rebellion against colonel qaddafi is continuing on the outskirts of tripoli. but it doesn't mean that qaddafi is bound to be deposed anytime soon, because much of the capital lives in a climate of fear.
>> they picked up from one house, last night, six brothers. that was about 3:00 in the morning. so basically we are living in fear, day in, day out. you cannot walk out at night, absolutely. >> reporter: so this is unusual? >> this is unusual. >> reporter: and it didn't last long. soon after police tear gas came the sound of rubber bullets. last week, they were shooting protesters here dead. these pictures were given to us today. we can't verify them, but they were filmed by the protesters themselves. are people prepared to die? >> yes, yes, they are. they are totally prepared to die. >> reporter: are you frightened? >> nope. not at all. >> are you prepared to die? >> i am prepared to die to get my freedom. >> reporter: and another protester who was shot through the arm last week told me the battle to oust the colonel would continue. >> reporter: no sooner was today's protest in tajoura dispersed than a pro-qaddafi demonstration began, though the protesters had apparently been bussed in. this is a city in virtual lockdown.
the explosions of anger we witnessed today, few and far between. >> woodruff: in eastern libya, the rebels tried to expand their territory today. they advanced from brega, and attacked the oil port of ra's lanuf. late in the day, they claimed they had taken the city 380 miles from tripoli. and in the west, the flood of refugees into tunisia slowed drastically. emma murphy has that part of the story. >> reporter: the thousands, and now the few, in the area between tunisia and libya is deserted. the question that remains unanswered is why? have those wishing to leave done so, or are they being prevented from doing so? just days ago, this was the scene as 200,000 passed through the border gate. yet that changed within hours, and the speed of that change has worried many. how long have you been here for? >> seven days. >> seven days? >> yes. >> so you came across the border seven days ago? >> yes.
>> reporter: as he visited the border camp where many of the migrants are now housed, international development secretary andrew mitchell revealed satellite images are now being analyzed for holding camps on the libyan side of the border. >> i'm very concerned because it didn't slow down, so it's an artificial and abrupt stop. we have no idea why that is. we're trying to find out, but at any moment, the number could increase very substantially. >> reporter: the libyan regime know that images of thousands waiting for shelter in tunisia are damaging to their claims that life inside the country is calm. many of those who did get through tell of beatings and attacks carried out by those loyal to the qaddafi regime. >> everything that libya... >> reporter: they took absolutely everything you had? your money, your phone, your laptop, and everything you brought? >> yeah, yeah. >> reporter: because the number of people coming through this border dropped off, it meant the tunisian authorities were able to avoid the predicted humanitarian crisis. but there is a real fear on the
part of the international community that there is another humanitarian crisis unfolding just a short distance down the road behind me. >> lehrer: an international airlift continued taking aid into tunisia and bringing out evacuees. two u.s. military transport planes joined the operation today. they flew in from germany with loads of blankets, water and other relief supplies. in washington, senator john mccain pressed again for a "no fly zone". but he said pentagon leaders are unsure about what's happening in libya. >> with the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff says that he has no sign of attacks from the air on the citizenry. and of course we see then shortly there after film of that happening. and then obviously i would assume they're not completely up to speed. >> woodruff: still to come on the newshour:
international intervention options in libya; pension pressures in rhode island; plus, shields and brooks. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: there were major new protests today across much of the middle east, from egypt to iraq and the arabian peninsula. newshour correspondent kwame holman has that report. >> holman: in baghdad, demonstrators targeted the government of prime minister nouri al-maliki for a second straight friday. but their goal was different from the protests in other arab states. >> ( translated ): the aim of the demonstrations is not to topple the government. on the contrary, it is to put pressure on the government to provide basic services to citizens, and this is a right which is included in the iraqi constitution. >> holman: iraq's government imposed a vehicle ban, trying to limit turnout. and "the washington post" reported maliki's security forces have cracked down on activists and independent media in recent days. to the west, in jordan, the governing system was challenged in the streets of amman with
calls to establish a constitutional monarchy that would render king abdullah a figurehead. >> ( translated ): jordanians need reforms. jordanians have paid an expensive price for the wrong policies. >> holman: on the arabian peninsula, protests continued in bahrain. and in yemen, up to 100,000 people rallied in the capital, sanaa, against president ali abdullah saleh. he again rejected demands he leave office now, instead of in 2013. meanwhile, in egypt, thousands gathered again in tahrir square, demanding further change. essam sharaf, appointed prime minister yesterday by the military government, visited the square and promised to act on grievances. and a constitutional referendum was announced for march 19. >> sreenivasan: several thousand people also protested in turkey over the arrests of eight journalists. officials say they were detained as part of a probe into an alleged plot to overthrow the government.
the lone christian member of pakistan's cabinet was laid to rest today, two days after his murder. shahbaz bhatti was assassinated after he opposed executing those who insult islam. his roman catholic funeral took place in a small, largely christian village. later, he was buried in a cemetery next to his father. in islamabad, prime minister yousuf raza gilani attended a separate mass. he vowed to find bhatti's killers and bring them to justice. the man accused of trying to kill an arizona congresswoman has been indicted on 49 new federal counts. jared lee loughner had already pleaded not guilty to charges that he tried to assassinate congresswoman gabrielle giffords and kill two of her aides. she was critically wounded. today, loughner was indicted in the murders of u.s. district judge john roll, and gabe zimmerman, an aide to giffords. in all, six people were killed and 13 wounded in the january attack. state employees in wisconsin braced for layoffs today. republican governor scott walker planned to issue pink slips to 1,500 workers unless 14
democrats end their boycott of the state senate. the boycott has blocked a vote on stripping public workers of most collective bargaining rights. last night, protesters were forced to vacate the state capitol, after nearly three weeks. a judge barred them from staying inside after hours. a $424 million satellite designed to monitor the earth's climate fell into the pacific ocean today. it was on a rocket that nasa launched early this morning from vandenberg air force base in california. but the rocket and satellite plummeted to the sea a few minutes later. the same thing happened to another climate satellite on the same type of rocket two years ago. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to judy. >> woodruff: as qaddafi turns up the firepower on protesting libyans, opposition leaders again appealed for american and international help and an attack on his headquarters. >> i didn't speak directly to hillary clinton but the libyan people need the international community to
protect our civilians by no-fly zone. our brothers who are beseiged in the west are asking for an air strike. >> woodruff: so, should the u.s. use military force to help the libyan opposition. for that, we get two views. omar turbi is a libyan human rights activist and businessman. and retired lieutenant general david deptula commanded the no fly zones over iraq during the 1990s. his last assignment was as a deputy chief of staff of the air force. he's now with a defense technology company. within thank you both for being with us. >> it's good to see you. >> we just have heard one comment that u.s. health is needed but how clear is it that the rebels want the united states or anybody on the outside to help them? >> well, i do appreciate the opportunity to be here. the u.s. government, the world community has come to help the libyan people and that's very much appreciated
by the libyan people and i'm sure people in the region there. >> woodruff: you mean helping the refugees. >> swift decisions at the u.n., the way we have been handling it i'm pretty satisfied with that level but i think we need to keep the momentum going forward. there they are not rebels fighting for in libya, they are pro-democracy activists, demonstrating on the street and they ended up being victims of airplane bombardment, tank mortars, guns, everything you can think of. >> woodruff: but you're saying they need more, and you are staying should be military assistance. >> no,. >> woodruff: you're not. >> the libyan opposition, the new government that is emerging, they are all calling for no military interventions as far as supplying them with arms and so forth. but what they would like to see is the implementation of a no-fly zone in libya.
that is very important. >> let's talk about that. general deptula s that something the u.s. should do? >> well, first i think before we address the how, a couple of high order first order questions need to be answered. you know, why, what, what are the overarching strategic objectives. what is the authorizing body to allow for the potential use of force in this kind of an operation. what are the rules of engagement. what, in fact, is a desired end stay, where. >> woodruff: end state meaning the end. >> right, what is the desired end state of this proposed military action. because if you are going to impose a no-fly zone, you have to be prepared to seize air dominance over the entire airspace which isn't just a matter of shooting
down qaddafi's aircraft when they fly but taking care of the threats such as the surface-to-air missile threat and the entire integrated air defense system that exists in that region. >> woodruff: that be would the pa of setting up a no-fly zone, wouldn't it? >> again, but maybe i go back to what is it that we are trying to achieve. there are a variety of different rationals, humanitarian relief, humanitarian assistance option, there is a support to the, those seeking independence. another set of options maybe developed to accomplish those ends. there is a determination as to whether to actively remove the qaddafi regime. so which one of those objectives are we trying to achieve. and only then would we determine what is the optimal series of effects that one wants to accomplish of which a no-fly zone may be one but it may not be the immediate desired solution. >> woodruff: so mr. turbi, is it clear at this point, i
mean the objective that general deptula is asking, you know, what would be the point of the no-fly zone. what would-- what goal would it be trying to accomplish? >> you know, instead of debating and overdebating what we should do, here's a movement that advocates our values. in north africa. if we call for a democracy, we're calling for freedom of people in that region, this is the time to act. april, 2006, the u.n. passed a doctrine and then everybody rallied behind it. that's the responsibility to protect doctrine. we can't be advocating that, voting for it and then at this time saying we're not going to go and do this. >> woodruff: this is the doctrine to protect. does that answer the question. >> well, again, what are the authorizing authorities to enable the community of nations who want to stop this heinous behavior on the
part of qaddafi. >> you mean on the ground in libya or do you mean -- >> in terms of achieving the outcomes of preventing qaddafi from attacking his people. but is that what the desired end state is? or is it to get rid of qaddafi and to allow a set of the democratic movement to then replace him? >> woodruff: how would you answer that. >> right now we're faced with tremendous human catastrophe that's going on as we speak. this man qaddafi is totally unpredictable. we don't know what he is going to do from one day to the next. and i can assure you one thing, it could be a missile from the east, from the west to the east that might kill 100,000 people in the next few days. >> woodruff: so you are saying initially the objective would simply be to protect the people omar turbi,
david deptula, thank you both. >> appreciate it now our continuing coverage over the battle of public pensions. a number of citieses in rhode island are struggling to meet their retirement obligations and news howe economic correspondent paul solmon looks at the decisions behind the current problems. it's part of his reporting on making sense of financial news.
>> public sector unions under siege fighting back nationwide. the most visible fight has been in wisconsin, of course, mainly over collective bargaining. but that's obscured the dominant issue in many states and cities- - retirement promises for which insufficient funds were set aside. as we've reported, tiny, union- friendly rhode island is a case study in under-funded retirement plans. so is its capital, providence. costly benefits promised, overly rosy investment returns assumed. mayor angel taveras. >> a lot of our previous mayors really decided to not worry about this. "this will be somewhere in the future." and now, we have about an $824 million unfunded pension liability. >> reporter: taveras is new to the job, but his most famous predecessor was one of the longest-serving mayors in u.s. history, vincent "buddy" cianci. >> all right, here we are back again, "the buddy cianci show." >> reporter: cianci has since
taken up talk radio. but originally a republican in a democratic state, he was the mayor when the pension fund was routinely shortchanged. you were funding something like- - i was just looking at the numbers-- 60%, something like that, during your... >> everybody was guilty of that, every public officer. >> reporter: including yourself. >> including everybody was. and i'll tell you why. because when you have... there's only so much to spread around. >> cianci is so incorruptible, he headed up the anti-corruption strike force in this state. >> reporter: cianci first won as an anti-corruption candidate back in 1975, was forced to resign in '84 after stubbing a cigarette in the face of the man he accused of being his wife's lover. in the '90s, voters re-elected the so-called "prince of providence" anyway. in 2002, however, a federal jury convicted him of running the city corruptly. he spent 4.5 years in prison. cianci remains unapologetic
about his past, though, including the pension promises. >> we put as much as we could afford in. how much do you want to tax the people? you want to raise the taxes? our tax capacity is already... our tax effort is far beyond our tax capacity. >> reporter: but you were there for such a long period of time. you were clearly there at the time when you were giving benefits. >> yeah, don't forget, there's a city council! i'm not the king. >> reporter: not just you. >> we're here with paul solman, the only guy who ever came on my show and interviewed me. ( laughter ) >> reporter: providence firefighters blame pols like cianci for a pension system that today is only 34% funded. >> it's their problem. they've created it. we've dutifully paid our contribution every week and, in fact, we've gone to court at least on two occasions to try and order them to pay their contributions. the city's purposely chose not to fund the pension system. >> reporter: but the firefighters share the blame, says cianci. >> you have people who abuse the system by going on retirements
when they weren't disabled, and they drained the system. there was a time you didn't have one firefighter who'd retired who wasn't disabled. and that was the problem-- they drained their own system. and you know what they get when they're disabled, don't you, paul? they get two-thirds tax-free, no matter how many years they've got on the job. >> reporter: but these guys... >> and i'm not here to debate it. i'm here to tell you what they did, because i was there and you weren't! >> reporter: firefighters claim no one got a disability pension he didn't deserve. and the average is barely $35,000 a year. phil payne retired healthy two years ago. >> and don't forget, in the city of providence, that's all i have. we don't collect social security. we don't pay into social security. >> reporter: and what's your yearly pension? >> my pension is $42,000. if i have to take a hit, myself and my family are going to have some problems. >> but everybody has problems. >> my entire adult life was spent with the city of providence fire department. i missed nights, weekends, and holidays. i missed christmases, i missed
birthdays with my kids. i missed all kinds of things, giving my dedication to the taxpayers of the city. and all i ask for in return was, if i get hurt or sick, you help me. when i retire, you help me. >> reporter: now, there's arguably a connection here to wisconsin-- in providence and other rhode island cities, pensions, subject to collective bargaining, have become unsustainable. there were major protests here because mayor taveras fired all his teachers for next year. he says he'll hire most back, but meanwhile, it gives him bargaining clout. >> i am negotiating contracts with firefighters, police, with our teachers, with our city employees. but, ultimately, it's in everyone's interest to reform the system now. >> reporter: providence is trying to dodge the fate of rhode island's smallest, saddest city. a mere one square mile packed with 19,000 residents, central falls boasts a proud past, a promising future.
its present, though, is shuttered. sinking revenues and a broke pension fund prompted a city bankruptcy filing. but rhode island stepped in, took over, sent a state trooper to the mayor's door. >> took my car and my keys, my dignity right away from me on my doorstep in front of my two-year old and my five-year old, and said that "we no longer need you." >> reporter: the mayor's lawyer, mike kelly. >> the mayor has been prohibited from going to the city hall, from communicating with employees. he's not there to handle constituent problems-- snowplowing, picking up the garbage, et cetera. >> reporter: why did the state depose a four-term mayor who won 80% of the vote, is now suing to get his job back? it was afraid of cities suddenly declaring bankruptcy. central falls is the canary in the coal mine of rhode island, says moreau. >> i think that, with all the other cities and towns that are on the brink of it, if one were to fall, all the others would fall right after it.
and it would be a financial disaster for the state of rhode island. >> reporter: mark pfeiffer is the retired judge temporarily appointed to run the city. with him, his successor, judge robert flanders. pfeiffer squeezed the unions, raised taxes 20%. still not enough. >> if you combine the pension obligations with retiree healthcare, it totals $80 million, with the city having a budget of $17 million, an annual budget. so the quick arithmetic would suggest that if we provided no services, maintain the same tax and revenue stream that we have right now, it would take almost five years to fund these obligations. >> reporter: in short, the pension fund here has already run dry. why did the city keep making promises it couldn't keep? >> people are going to try to get the best deal that they can. and that... there's nothing wrong with that. it's just that when you create these obligations, it has to be done in such a way that there actually is a funding source for it.
>> reporter: mayor moreau says he did the best he could. >> i have been telling my firefighters and police that we needed concessions for the past six years, that we needed concessions-- "we need concessions, we need concessions" over and over. i said, "you guys got a 3% rise this year, next year and the year after. if i have to give you 3% and the whole benefits package, i cannot afford to fund your pension. i can't." >> reporter: is collective bargaining what caused the problem? you, the unions, everyone created a situation that was literally unsustainable. >> it became unsustainable when, obviously, the economy became poorer and the cost of healthcare and cost of living increased. to say that it's collective bargaining's fault, or it's the mayor's fault, or it's the previous people's fault-- i think it's the sign of the times. >> reporter: moreau's mayorship is now dormant, his office deserted, his parking space empty, his pay slashed by two- thirds. but his bankruptcy idea is very much alive. the city's new receiver, judge flanders.
>> one of the options that judge pfeiffer put on the table is a bankruptcy filing where, potentially, there could be restructuring of many obligations, including the ones that are most troubling to this community. >> reporter: the other main options: merging central falls into its neighbor, pawtucket; raising taxes further; lowering union contracts through negotiation. back in nearby providence, buddy cianci, who presided over pension under-funding, is blunt about its consequences. >> we're not a sustainable economy if we have to keep paying these huge pensions. the city, right now, has got probably $1 billion of unfunded liability. now, you don't have to be fellini to know how that movie ends. >> reporter: but it looks more like a beginning-- of battles in cities and states where workers feel that their jobs and retirement promises are being unfairly targeted as the first
things to go. >> woodruff: the battles are expected to continue at the state level, as well. more than 20 states are working on changes this year to reduce their pension liabilities. >> lehrer: and finally tonight, the analysis of shields and brooks-- syndicated columnist mark shields, "new york times" columnist david brooks. would it be correct to say, mark, like it or not, wherever you come down, that story that paul just told is the story now, in all of wisconsin, ohio, you name it, that's it? >> it s it's a story that has the "dateline" just everywhere in the united states. >> and do you agree with what the mayor of the small town said, it's nobody's fault. it's everybody's fault. it's a lot of causes here? >> yeah, jeff garen, the democratic pollster has a great statement and i think it's quite accurate. he said americans are not willing to pay for the government they want. they want more government
that they're willing to pay for. and i think that's been the case. i don't think there is any question about it. >> lehrer: do agree with that? >> yeah, i mean, we had a search, not only of private debt but also public debt and it is living within your means, it san odd phenomenon because every generation has an incentive to spend on themselves and put off cost on the future. and yet in american history nobody has quite done it the way we have. so you wonder why is that. i was reading fdr's comments even during the new deal where they were spending a lot of money and had to. but there was a moral horror of debt because they had lived risky lives and were sort of ris ago verse maybe more than us. and i think because they felt a bridge generation to generation. and they didn't have to think of it, the instinct all disgust of pushing that off. and somehow that got eroded and so we had this surge in private debt but we also had a surge in promises where poll station-- politicians said i can't afford to i pa you now but i will give you all these benefits you will
enjoy some day without the money to pay for them. >> lehrer: and then a recession. >> that's right, one american political leader to his credit, raised this and made a campaign on it and it was ross prx erot. he had defects and shortcomings as a candidate but he confronted it after we quadrupled the national debt with. he had gone 200 yearses in the country, the louisiana purchase, two great wars, great depression, and a total of debtness of $1 trillion, 200 years. we quadrupled it in 12 years with no wars and no depression by tax cuts and spending and all the rest of it. and perot came along, what you have done, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. you have given a party and passed the tab to your kids. he put it on the national agenda to his credit. and we did, we did confront it at that point, in the late 1990s. both paerts tried to take some credit for it and probably deserve it. bill clinton was the president, he gets the lion's share. but i mean it has-- it has become an epidemic in the
country. >> lehrer: but today there's good news on the jobs front, right, david? and do you see it as really good news? >> yeah, i do. i mean i'm really impressed by the private sector growth by small business growth. you know, you travel around the country meet businesspeople they are hungry for opportunity. they have got ideas. they want to try them out. they want to make their companies better. it is the natural impulse of an entrepreneur, of somebody in business to do better and more that is just the natural impulse so the weird thing is not that we growing. the weird thing is that they didn't have the opportunity to great because of all these conditions that had built up. but now they're back to their normal situation. i saw some businesspeople probably two, three months ago and one of the executives said squeeze your hand tight and hold it there tight. and then relax it. see how much better that feels and he said we're now in the relaxing phase. so i think you know that confidence i think is growing. >> the two experts told jeff. >> he's now going to-- see what happens. >> he did feel better.
>> that is what i told jeff as well. >> but lisa lynch, it was-- it's the biggest drop, psychologically, it's nothing but good news. i mean we're talking about the first time in two years, it is under 9%. the biggest increase since last may but that was census bureau hires. so it is good news. the sobering news was added. in jeff's case, 15.7 million people still looking for jobs. and 6 million of them have been looking for more than six months. >> and lisa lynch added with $200,000 new jobs -- >> 2919 to get back to 5%. >> yeah. >> and just one other quick sobering fact there has been an oddity in the last three weeks in the polling data where they ask people how optimistic you are about the future and four weeks ago, people were pretty optimistic. but in the last month in both the nbc "the wall street journal" poll and the gallop poll a that optimism has plummeted. >> it has. >> and i'm not quite clear sure why, it might be increasing gas prices, might
be turmoil in the middle east, it might be the budget fight. i'm not quite clear sure why. but it has plummeted by a significant amount. >> 29% in "the wall street journal" nbc poll believe the economy will get better. >> lehrer: the other discussion we just heard a few moments ago about libya, interesting discussion. they've got to do something since the libyan-american and air force general says great, what? and who is going to give us the power to do it and what is the goal. how is this thing going to play out? >> i think it's going to play out, jim, absent a visible, factual evidence of a tragedy of great human dimensions. i think there will be no entry as far as the united states militarily. i mean secretary gates again delivered the sobering news. for the administration and to the administration critics which was a no-fly zone is an act of war.
you know, you don't simply say it's not like a no passing zone. we don't put up orange cones. i mean you have to go in and take out the anti-aircraft capability of the other country. so i think that's course which was being trumpetted and heard rather loudly became muted. but, and there's no way we're going to act unilaterally. i think the experience of the united states has had in iraq and afghanistan, in this first decade of the 2 1s century have given great cause, caution and hesitation to the idea of a surgical strike anywhere. >> how do you see it? >> the experience has given us caution, on the other hand you have the following logistics playing out. we have imposed sanctions on qaddafi, more or less isolated him in his regime. there is really no escape hatch for them. and the protestors are marching. and so we put them in a situation where they say there is no escape. we're not going to be forgiven. we have to fight to the end
and just stick this out. >> so we've given them a strong incentive to do everything possible to crush the activists. so if we -- >> you mean to qaddafi. >> right so, i understand why the sanction, it's part the sanctions but if you are goinging to give the dictator an incentive to kill a lot of people, well, maybe you shouldn't stop there. and so are we really goinging to stand by if his only choice is going to be whatever it takes. are we really going to do nothing in the whole world that is a tough thing to do. >> but that's the question, isn't it. >> so i understand the cautions but i don't think we can just-- to the extent this has happened and to what we foe about qaddafi i don't think we can stand there while he massacres people. we should expect the violence will get worse because he has no incentive to not do that. >> the invasion and occupation of libya which is what we are talking about -- >> well. >> you don't go in, you don't send platoon in, i mean this is a war, what
we're talking about. it's a civil war in the making. and it is real. we have little leverage in libya as we have anyplace in the world. it's unlike egypt where there was an army, an institution that could provide the option of leadership and the reality of leadership. there's no other countries that have any influence over them. i mean absent a collective act, by many, many countries, you know, i just don't see the united states-- opinions what about general's idea-- it wasn't an idea, it was an option that he said well there's that one area in trip ollie that is forth need. that's where qaddafi and his folks are, take them out? >> i mean, it always sounds great. i mean it really does. >> that's the surgical. >> that's the surgical, just go in and take him out and then we're gone. and we don't have, i mean, if there is evidence of a massacre then there will be collective action, you know that.
and i am tried to-- i'm sorry that people are being hurt. it strikes me that the tide is going in the direction of the anti-qaddafi forces right now from all the reports i've had and am privy too. so i hope that that happens. but i do not see the united states one more land war in the middle east. >> i mean nobody is tuck that being sending troops on land. the activists don't even want them armed. they don't want them doing a surgical strike. don't think that is a particularly good idea. they're asking for a weighted shift, balance of power and we have had no-fly zones in iraq and elsewhere around the world it hasn't meant we have he had to take over the country. in saddam's reign, after the first desert storm we had a no-fly zone so, i'm not sure it is a good idea but i'm not sure we can walk up this far and tan back and say okay, sorry. >> after we wiped out saddam's military capacity, and in the persian gulf war it was, the war was stopped
after 96 hours because they had been totally decimated and devastated. there was no resistence. he did -- >> they were using gunships. we don't need-- on the south. >> let's move to or even more fun subject, the congress, the two-week thing now. and they've avoided a shutdown for now. now they need to negotiate big time all the way to march 18th what do you think going to happen? >> i sort of don't see how they are going to do it but i think they are going to do it. and i say that because we saw over the past week some flexibility in both parties, actually, among the republicansing almost all except for michelle batchman and a few voted for the deal. among the democrats a lot large majority voted for the deal so i think they both understand that if there is no deem then they both get walloped. there is no advantage to either party for a shut down because both parties in the polling shows would be blamed equally. so i think both are in a
deal, i think john bayne hear-- boehner has emerged as a pretty effective leader and deal maker. he says i have these tea party as these crazy guy souse better deal with me. i think will get a deal and right now i think will be on the republican terms. one of the striking thing approximates in the last two weeks is the democrats had all the momentum in the lame duck session and they sort of frittered that away by sheer passivities. and the republicans are sort of on the march. >> lehrer: few seconds. >> i think that the question of lame duck session, the president was assertive, he was active, he was energetic, he cut the deal on the taxes, he cut the deal on start. he cut the deal on, as well on don't ask don't tell. and i really think that right now the advantage is to the republicans. the democrat, the administration cannot take a shut down of the government. i mean i agree with david politically f it goes either way but the country can't stand it and given the nature of the economy, the
good news, we may be heading in the recovery of 2011, the summer of 2011 which didn't ever materialize in the summer of 2010 as democrat kostel you last november. and they don't want to jeopardize that in any way. >> lehrer: thank you both very much. >> thank you. >> now the major >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day: the economy gained 192,000 jobs in february, and unemployment fell to 8.9%, the lowest in nearly two years. and forces loyal to libyan leader moammar gadaffi attacked protesters in tripoli. but rebel fighters claimed they captured another oil port. and to hari sreenivasan for what's on the newshour online. hari. >> sreenivasan: we have more with shields and brooks on "the rundown." paul examines the latest jobs numbers with his "solman scale." plus on "art beat," jeff looks at a new production of "who's afraid of virginia woolf?" all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. judy. >> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. on monday, we'll begin a series of reports on women's global health issues. i'm judy woodruff. >> lehrer: and i'm jim lehrer. "washington week" can be seen later this evening on most pbs stations.
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